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Reading Teacher Books Should Count as Professional Development!

Over the summer, I have tried to do summer break things. I have hung out at the animal shelter (probably way too much), spent time with family, watched way too many episodes of Bones and Say Yes to the Dress, and taken a lot of naps. Ahhh…summer.

But I have also gotten bored. And itchy to get started with school prep because I always try to do something new, bigger, and better each year. So not only did I work on new lesson materials and my new classroom theme (which I will reveal in a new blog series starting next week so stay tuned!!) but I read several new teaching books.

And that’s the focus of today’s blog! I want to spotlight some of these awesome teaching books that I have read this summer and encourage you (especially if you’re a 1st year or 2nd year teacher looking for something a little different) to check them out! They’re seriously awesome. Let’s go!

First up is Teach Like a Pirate. I re-read this one earlier this summer (and plan to re-read it again before school starts as it is like my manual) because it is so good. Dave Burgess presents his method – the PIRATE method – for engaging your students. He shows how he starts his year and how he continues to build student buy-in throughout the school year. I really love his ideas that teaching is, in part, the entertainment industry! He’s not afraid to go crazy and dress up and act nutty in order to get his students engaged. He stresses how important it is to leave them wanting more and to have them fret about missing class because who knows what they’re going to miss? This is a great book for new teachers who are wanting to jazz up their lessons and it’s great for veteran teachers who want to reach even their most un-engaged students. It just gets me in the right mindset for teaching and gives you actual tools you can use in the classroom! Seriously an amazing book. Check it out on Amazon (the link is above). I’d say get it from your local library but you will want to keep it! 

Since I loved Teach Like a Pirate, I checked out Dave Burgess’ website for other books he had written and I stumbled upon this gem, which is written by a different author under the “Pirate” label…and was AWESOME. Explore Like a Pirate is all about using gamification in the classroom to engage your students. I am all about trying to reach the students where they are and connect my curriculum with their interests. Last year, I saw some engagement with Classcraft and the gamification elements therein. Naturally, I was intrigued by this book. If you’re looking to fully integrate gaming into the aspects of your classroom, this book is like a step-by-step guide in how to do that. Matera takes you through each element you will need in your gamified classroom from story and theme to items and side quests. It’s a fully comprehensive guide! It can honestly seem a little daunting. For me, I’m going to incorporate some elements this year using my time travel theme, and try to go a little more ‘gamey’ each year. Matera also gives great ideas for review games (I definitely bought a Crocodile Dentist to use after reading his book!!) and other tools that you can use in the classroom. If you’re looking for a way to shake things up or you’re totally interested in gamifying your classroom, this is the how-to guide for you! Even if you aren’t sure if you want to fully gamify your classroom, you will still get some awesome ideas from this incredible book! (Amazon link above).

The next book I read also came from Dave Burgess Consulting, like the previous two reviewed in this blog. Clearly, I should just read all the teaching books published by Dave Burgess and co.! Ditch That Homework was all about doing away with mindless homework and focusing on meaningful work in the classroom instead of sending students home to do work that they can’t really do on their own. I enjoyed the tips and suggestions the authors gave on how to make the work in your classroom more effective so you don’t have to send home meaningless busy work. I plan to implement some of their tips and ideas, especially when it comes to retrieval methods and best methods of storing information. I learned a lot from this book and would highly recommend it! (Amazon link above).

The Wild Card is my new favorite teaching book (well, maybe tied with Teach Like a Pirate of course). I heard about this book at a conference I went to this summer and bought it to read on my trip to Texas in July. O. M. G. Soooo good!!! I am always trying to be more creative in the classroom. I am constantly looking for ways to bring the lessons to life. Everything in this book made me want to do better, be more creative (although I kind of wish I could just steal Hope King and have her do everything for me because, dang, her ideas!!). Hope and Wade King present 7 steps to being more creative and becoming the Wild Card in your classroom. They are teachers at the Ron Clark Academy and taught in SC before that. This book was great because they presented their tips and steps alongside their personal experiences. They give ideas like using your go-to thing (what you’re really interested in, like music or art or cooking) to bring creativity into the classroom. Hope does these awesome room transformations – I’m talking turning the whole classroom into Jurassic World – to teach her content. I’m really bad at thinking up ways to creatively teach a lesson but I’m working on it! One thing they said that really got my attention was to institute a ‘call and response’ to get students’ attention rather than just saying “I’ll wait…” and counting until kids stop talking. …ummm… I’m totally guilty of doing that. I think I’m going to try a call and response this year! Who cares if the ‘cool kids’ think they’re too good for that? Don’t be afraid to stand out! This book is fantastic for new teachers and veteran teachers alike and I highly highly highly recommend it. Like click over to Amazon (link above) right now and buy it – you won’t regret it! 

And there you have it! Four teaching book recommendations. What have you read lately that has really inspired you? I always love reading The Book Whisperer although it really makes me sad I don’t teach ELA haha. I’d love to hear what books have inspired you or encouraged you to try something new! Sound off in the comments! 

For now…that’s a wrap!